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The New Arab

International community must end increased al-Aqsa encroachment, says Palestinian PM

Palestinians have refused to enter the al-Aqsa mosque in protest against new measures [AFP]

Date of publication: 19 July, 2017

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Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is urging the international community to act on Israeli infringement that could threaten to spark a 'religious war'.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah called on the international community to force Israel to remove metal detectors from the entrances to the al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

"We call on the international community and the Arab and Islamic states to take responsibility for... stopping the occupation's measures that are in contravention with all laws, agreements and international charters," Hamdallah said at the Palestinian Authority's weekly cabinet meeting.

The Palestinian PM added that Israel's increased security measures are part of a sustained attempt to change the status quo at the compound, which is considered as Islam's third holiest site.

Read also: Shutting Palestinians out of al-Aqsa is a major error

Since Israel's occupation in 1967, Jordan has been custodian of the mosque. 

Jews are allowed to visit the compound but not pray there, a ruling supported by Jewish Halakhic law. In recent years, however, a movement in Israel to establish full Jewish sovereignty over the site has gained momentum.  

Once considered fringe and extreme, the movement now enjoys support from moderate rabbis and politicians.

"[These measures] come in framework of the occupation's plans to change the historic status quo in Jerusalem and the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque," Hamdallah said.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that there is no intention to change the status quo at the holy site. He claims that the metal detectors are a necessary measure following Friday's shooting attack which left two Israeli police officers and three Arab-Israeli attackers dead.

Hamdallah warned that the measures could destabilise the wider region.

"What is happening is gross aggression and a dangerous Israeli plan... that will increase tensions in Jerusalem specifically and the region generally, explode the situation, and ignite a religious war," he said.

Following the instalment of the metal detectors, Palestinians have refused to worship inside the mosque in protest against the new measures.

"We reject the changes imposed by the Israeli government," Sheikh Omar Kiswani, al-Aqsa director, told reporters on the first day of the protest, which has now gone into its fourth day.

"We will not enter through these metal detectors," he added.

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